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Work all day…

For many of us, the state of Nevada is considered half-desert, half-party, and for good reason. Whether you’re flying in for a run-of-the-mill, make-all-the-mistakes bachelor party – or if you’re an actual taxpaying resident of the lovely Silver State and have all your weekends booked with unforgettable state park camping excursions – you’re probably going to have a good time. Turns out, a majority of the state’s voters value that right to love yourself and party hard, as illustrated by a recent ballot initiative to turn the state recreationally green; that is, thanks to 55% of cool-as-hell Nevadans, pot can be consumed legally as soon as November 2017, so long as you do it in the privacy of your own home.

You might be able to guess where this conversation is going. As the powers that be so responsibly remind us, there is a limit to your right to party, and that limitation appears most commonly in drunk and otherwise intoxicated driving arrests. “Well, that isn’t me!” you might feel like saying. “That would never be me!” To you we say: Good going. For many others, that isn’t always the case, whether it’s caused by a simple one-too-many mistake or a chronic issue that needs to be addressed. Chances are, you or someone you know has been affected by a drunk driving incident, and for that reason it can’t hurt to learn a little legal jargon on the subject.

So what constitutes “drunk?”

Like in any other states, there are clearly defined standards which define when you should and shouldn’t be driving. Be aware, though, that you can still be arrested if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit, so long as the arresting officer knows there is some amount of illicit substance in your blood and that said substance is impairing your ability to drive safely. As a general rule, know that you are breaking the law in Nevada if you are driving with a BAC of:

  • 08% or above if you are over the age of 21 and hold a normal driver’s license.
  • 04% or above if you are over the age of 21 and hold a commercial driver’s license.
  • 02% or above if you are under the age of 21.

Driving under the influence of mind-altering substances other than alcohol is also a serious offense, and is treated with all the severity seen with ordinary DUI consequences! This includes prescription drugs – even those which are legally prescribed to you. If you have taken something like this and decide to drive to the store, be aware that you might exhibit some funny behavior typical of drunk drivers like weaving or driving under the speed limit, both obvious grounds for an officer to pull you over. So think ahead, and make that dental surgery itself the only painful part about recovery. You’ll thank yourself later.

What they don’t know can’t hurt me, right?

If you’ve been pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving, and you really have been drinking and know for a fact that you’re fucked, but you’re not yet sure how fucked you are, you might decide that refusing a chemical test altogether could be your best line of defense. After all, how can they use such an incriminating percentage against you if they’re not able to obtain it to begin with? Common sense tells us that this is crazy, since only a guilty person would make such a claim. But if you think about it, the concept does start to appeal a bit…

Consider yourself warned: This is drunk logic at its finest and cannot be trusted. Like most examples of prime drunk logic, this argument zeroes in one very specific part of the issue and ignores the larger picture: It’s illegal to drive drunk! This understanding goes hand in hand with an actual written aspect of DUI law in Nevada, also known as Implied Consent. This basically says that you can’t really say no to an officer if he or she tells you to blow, and if you choose to get behind of the wheel of a car after drinking or doing drugs you “imply consent” to be tested since you’ve gotta know you’re in the wrong. If you refuse a chemical test, you can expect the following things to happen:

  • The officer will more than likely request a warrant over the phone if he or she deems it appropriate. Then, if you still refuse, they have the authority to use force in order to acquire a sample.
  • You will lose your license. If it’s the first time you’ve refused within seven years, you’re facing a one-year suspension. If it’s not the first time within seven years, and you had your license suspended before because of a similar incident, the suspension is lengthened to three years.
  • If you’re under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, there’s a good chance you’ll be subject to more than one test – that is, a combination of blood, breath, and urine tests.

Biting the bullet

Admitting guilt is a hard thing to do, especially when it relates to a crime as stigmatizing and as potentially life-altering as a DUI. But we’re not here to make you feel worse. If you’re in this sort of a situation, chances are you already know you did a bad thing. The question is: How bad is it in the eyes of the law? To answer this question, you should be asking yourself three questions:

  1. Are you a repeat offender?
  2. How drunk were you?
  3. and Was anybody hurt?

If you can answer these questions, you’ll be well equipped to cope with the months and years ahead of you. You should also plan on answering a fourth, crucial question: Should I hire a lawyer? (More often than not, the answer is yes.)

To get a better idea of how various DUI offenses are punished by the state of Nevada, we’ll go ahead and break down standard offenses according to first offense, second offense, and so on, since these distinctions usually carry the most weight in terms of adding up consequences. Keep in mind that when adding up offenses, the consequences mentioned only apply of the offenses occur within seven years of each other.

  • First offense: This is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Nevada.
    • Fines ranging from $400-1,000, plus any and all additional court costs.
    • Anywhere from two days to six months in jail. At the judge’s discretion, this can be substituted with 24 to 96 hours of community service.
    • License suspension to last 90 days. After 45 days, however, you will be eligible for a restricted license.
    • DUI school and participation in the Nevada Victim Impact panel, the latter of which is basically a lecture hosted by MADD.
    • If your BAC was 0.18% higher, you can also expect the following: The administration of a drug and alcohol dependency evaluation, mandatory substance abuse program enrollment, and the installation of a Nevada Breath Interlock Device (a BID) in your car to be maintained for one to three years. The installation of a BID with a BAC lower than 0.18% isn’t required but can be ordered for no more than six months.
  • Second offense: Also a misdemeanor offense.
    • Fines ranging from $750-1,000. Some of this fine can be substituted with community service.
    • Anywhere from 10 days to six months in jail. At the judge’s discretion, this can be substituted with a stint of house arrest.
    • A one-year license suspension or revocation, at the judge’s discretion.
    • Participation in the Nevada Victim Impact panel, a drug and alcohol dependency evaluation, and mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse program.
    • If your BAC was 0.18% higher, you can also expect the mandatory installation of a BID in your vehicle once you get your license back, to be maintained for one to three years. Again, the device isn’t required by law if your BAC is below this limit, but it is possible to have it ordered for no more than six months.
  • Third offense: This is considered a category B felony.
    • Fines ranging from $2,000-5,000.
    • Anywhere from one to six years in a state prison facility.
    • A three-year license suspension or revocation.
    • Participation in the Nevada Victim Impact panel and a mandatory drug and alcohol evaluation.
    • The installation of a BID in your vehicle for one to three years following your release from prison.

Like we said before, if anyone is hurt in an accident resulting from intoxicated driving, you can bet the associated consequences will be much, much worse. No matter where you stand in terms of repeat offenses, such a crime is considered a class B felony. Repercussions include two to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $5,000, plus damages. Don’t drink and drive, folks!!

Should I hire a lawyer? Where should I start???

If you’ve been involved in an intoxicated run-in with the police, you should know that serious misfortunes are ahead if you don’t equip yourself in the right ways. Dealing with the both the court and the DMV can be horribly painful – especially when you’re in the wrong. Fortunately, there are people in this world who are well-trained to speak the most complicated of legal languages and who will be able to deal with all the ins and outs of your case. You’ll find that, more often than not, acting fast is in your best interest if you want any shot at lessening the severity of your punishment. BernieSez is a free and easy-to-use resource when it comes to finding legal aid and getting your most burning questions answered. Simply upload your case today for a free consultation, post a question to our discussion boards, and begin your journey towards the better side of justice.

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